THINKING CRITICALLY IN COLLEGE

THE ESSENTIAL HANDBOOK FOR STUDENT SUCCESS

A functional, no-frills guide to critical thinking for rising college freshmen.

Newman prepares incoming college students to get more out of their educations with this educational guide.

Many soon-to-be college students view college as a way to prepare themselves for their future jobs or to improve their earning potential. Indeed, with so much emphasis placed on how college qualifies students to pursue various career paths, it’s easy to forget its primary purpose: education. A college education is about more than the rote memorization of facts and formulas; it’s also about more than building a resume or securing an internship. With this book, the author argues that the true value of attending college is the experience of learning new things, which will hopefully make the student a more thoughtful, versatile, and capable human being: “College will require you to learn new things in new ways,” writes Newman in his introduction. “Whatever your specific interests or long-range plans, you certainly wouldn’t choose to devote this time and money to higher education if you weren’t looking to become more educated. Obvious as that sounds, many students begin their college careers without reflecting on just what that means….” Specifically, the author outlines the higher-order critical thinking skills that are essential for success in college and beyond. Newman refreshes skills related to reading, writing, quantitative reasoning, and research that students may have learned in high school but need updating for collegiate learning. He also offers sketches of various academic disciplines, providing samples of the prompts and assignments students might encounter within them. The idea is that, by the end of the book, an incoming college student will have picked up a number of skills it might otherwise take several semesters of trial and error to acquire.

The book is essentially pedagogical—it teaches the reader how to learn better. It’s a worthy endeavor and a valuable one for those industrious enough to make their way through these chapters. Newman’s prose is cheerful and easy to follow, if not always terribly gripping: “Each time you walk into class and take your seat, look around you and take in who is on this journey with you. In most cases, you won’t know them, but given that you are classmates, you have an opportunity to contribute to their learning, and they to yours.” He goes out of his way to demonstrate the thinking behind the concepts he discusses, opening the reader’s eyes (perhaps for the first time) to the reasons underlying the ways they have been and will be taught. The author provides numerous practice exercises to give the reader a taste of what they will encounter as well as sections in which to journal and consider their own interests and goals. The format is fairly standard, with little to distinguish it visually from the numerous other guides and study books aimed at high school students in the run-up to college. Indeed, the question may be not whether the book will help students but whether readers will willingly read and internalize its lessons. Those who do will undoubtedly have a leg up in their first semester.

A functional, no-frills guide to critical thinking for rising college freshmen.

Pub Date: March 7, 2023

ISBN: 9781635767957

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Radius Book Group

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2023

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GREENLIGHTS

A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

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All right, all right, all right: The affable, laconic actor delivers a combination of memoir and self-help book.

“This is an approach book,” writes McConaughey, adding that it contains “philosophies that can be objectively understood, and if you choose, subjectively adopted, by either changing your reality, or changing how you see it. This is a playbook, based on adventures in my life.” Some of those philosophies come in the form of apothegms: “When you can design your own weather, blow in the breeze”; “Simplify, focus, conserve to liberate.” Others come in the form of sometimes rambling stories that never take the shortest route from point A to point B, as when he recounts a dream-spurred, challenging visit to the Malian musician Ali Farka Touré, who offered a significant lesson in how disagreement can be expressed politely and without rancor. Fans of McConaughey will enjoy his memories—which line up squarely with other accounts in Melissa Maerz’s recent oral history, Alright, Alright, Alright—of his debut in Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused, to which he contributed not just that signature phrase, but also a kind of too-cool-for-school hipness that dissolves a bit upon realizing that he’s an older guy on the prowl for teenage girls. McConaughey’s prep to settle into the role of Wooderson involved inhabiting the mind of a dude who digs cars, rock ’n’ roll, and “chicks,” and he ran with it, reminding readers that the film originally had only three scripted scenes for his character. The lesson: “Do one thing well, then another. Once, then once more.” It’s clear that the author is a thoughtful man, even an intellectual of sorts, though without the earnestness of Ethan Hawke or James Franco. Though some of the sentiments are greeting card–ish, this book is entertaining and full of good lessons.

A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-13913-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

CALL ME ANNE

A sweet final word from an actor who leaves a legacy of compassion and kindness.

The late actor offers a gentle guide for living with more purpose, love, and joy.

Mixing poetry, prescriptive challenges, and elements of memoir, Heche (1969-2022) delivers a narrative that is more encouraging workbook than life story. The author wants to share what she has discovered over the course of a life filled with abuse, advocacy, and uncanny turning points. Her greatest discovery? Love. “Open yourself up to love and transform kindness from a feeling you extend to those around you to actions that you perform for them,” she writes. “Only by caring can we open ourselves up to the universe, and only by opening up to the universe can we fully experience all the wonders that it holds, the greatest of which is love.” Throughout the occasionally overwrought text, Heche is heavy on the concept of care. She wants us to experience joy as she does, and she provides a road map for how to get there. Instead of slinking away from Hollywood and the ridicule that she endured there, Heche found the good and hung on, with Alec Baldwin and Harrison Ford starring as particularly shining knights in her story. Some readers may dismiss this material as vapid Hollywood stuff, but Heche’s perspective is an empathetic blend of Buddhism (minimize suffering), dialectical behavioral therapy (tolerating distress), Christianity (do unto others), and pre-Socratic philosophy (sufficient reason). “You’re not out to change the whole world, but to increase the levels of love and kindness in the world, drop by drop,” she writes. “Over time, these actions wear away the coldness, hate, and indifference around us as surely as water slowly wearing away stone.” Readers grieving her loss will take solace knowing that she lived her love-filled life on her own terms. Heche’s business and podcast partner, Heather Duffy, writes the epilogue, closing the book on a life well lived.

A sweet final word from an actor who leaves a legacy of compassion and kindness.

Pub Date: Jan. 24, 2023

ISBN: 9781627783316

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Viva Editions

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2023

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